Q&A With Author Diana L. Smith

One of my absolute favorite things about being a writer is having the opportunity to meet so many talented, hard-working authors, creatives, and artists. It has been sheer joy reading/reviewing some of the most original, imaginative, award-winning, unforgettable stories on the planet. Kind of like this recent book I’ve had the pleasure of coming across, Pete the Pancake by Diana L. Smith.

After reading this entertaining, heartwarming story, I just had to know more about Pete and the author behind this adorable, five-star tale! So, without further ado, let’s meet debut author, Diana L. Smith!

Welcome, Diana, thanks for stopping by! Please share a bit about yourself. 

My name is Diana L. Smith. I live in Florida with my husband and best friend, Kevin. I was originally an Ohio girl and moved in 2000 for work. I loved Ohio, and it was a wonderful place to grow up, but here in FL, you do not have to shovel sunshine!

Tell us more about Pete the Pancake. How did he come to be? What inspired the title? 

Well, Kevin and I were at our friend’s house (Colin and Michelle – yes, the same names in the book) and Michelle was making pancakes. Most of the pancake makers in the world know that the first one turns out a little wonky. Sure enough, that happened, and Michelle was getting ready to throw it out. I told her, “awww don’t throw it away. It’s cute. I will take him! We could even call him Pete.” And, so it began! What is really funny and may sound odd because I never really thought about it in this way but, I am Pete in a way! I have neurofibromatosis. It is a genetic disorder that causes nervous system tumors, so I look different than most people. So, I know what it feels like when people stare. It is just what I have and not who I am, which is an important distinction. I am a happy-go-lucky person and feel blessed in this life!

Very cool how Pete was created…and thanks for sharing why you relate to his character, and choosing to spread humor, positivity, and gratitude through books and reading. 

The illustrations are fabulous. Who designed/illustrated the book?

Max Alnutt is the illustrator. He is so talented and really brought Pete to life for me. I sent him my sketch of what I wanted Pete to look like (which was terrible) but he got the idea and voila – Pete!

Do you have a favorite writing/creative space?

When I was in 5th grade, we had an assignment to write a short story. I wrote, The missing 10-million-dollar stamp. I was so proud of that story. I somehow found that my favorite place to write was in the laundry room, sitting in front of the dryer with the lid down like some sort of desk! No idea why I chose that but, I was 10! Now, I enjoy sitting out on the pool deck writing.

Pool-side writing sounds very relaxing! What’s your favorite part about being a children’s book author?

I love to be creative. My husband always said that I should have been in marketing or advertising rather than IT, which I have been for years and years. I am proud of the message that Pete delivers to kids and adults alike. All too often, people shy away from people or things that are different probably for many different reasons. They fear someone that looks different. They may not know how to react. Some people are just judgmental.  

What’s next for Pete? What are you working on at the moment? 

I want Pete to make it to the buffet. I figure that he will be introduced to other foods and hear their stories. For example, I see Pete meeting foods that people are afraid of without even trying them. I remember being a little girl and my family and I were having dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. My father wanted me to try the octopus and I was scared, even brought to tears! I finally tried it and loved it!!!  It is really the same lesson but, in another way that kids can understand. I believe that people need to think about who they shy away from or ignore. They could be missing out on getting to know someone that was meant to be their best friend until the day that they die. You never know. Don’t make assumptions.

I couldn’t agree more. Do you remember the first book you read?

I remember being in love with the Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene. I could not get enough of those.

Who are your all-time favorite authors?

There have been so many different ones…that is a tough question. I have read so many different authors from Tolstoy to Gary Larson. All over the place, right? That is what makes it fun!

My favorite poem is by W.B. Yeats – ‘The Pilgrim Soul’ and Sidney Sheldon was a guilty pleasure for sure. I genuinely enjoy songs and consider songwriters as authors. Some of my favorite lines from songs are:

The Beatles – “In the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.”

Rolling Stones – “You can’t always get what you want but, if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

Any advice for new indie writers?

First off, believe in yourself. Don’t let fear hold you back. It is an incredible feeling to get your physical book in your hands for the first time!!!!  I cried.  It is a lot of work but completely worth every minute!

Great advice, indeed. What are your hobbies when you’re not writing?

My husband and I are travel nuts! We love exploring new places. We have been to six continents and are only missing Antarctica. The pandemic has kept us at home like everyone else, but we’re really looking forward to getting back out there. We love to cook and especially like to bring home the flavors and recipes of the different countries that we have visited. We love movies and are one of those couples that love different movie quotes!

Six continents! I’ll bet you’ve had some pretty amazing, unforgettable experiences. Thank you so much, Diana, for hanging out at the blog and for sharing Pete the Pancake with the world! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for him.

What would you like readers to know?  

I hope that they enjoy Pete and really understand the story. There are many feelings that are contagious. Chose kindness, acceptance, and love. And if those emotions and actions dominate our lives and outlook, just think what a wonderful world we could have!

Well said!

Where can readers find your books?

Pete is available on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited, Kindle eBook, and paperback. You can find Pete in every market that Amazon has all over the world.

Buy Pete the Pancake

Join Diana L. Smith and Pete the Pancake on social media

Pete on Facebook

Diana on Facebook

Thanks again and have a great summer!

For more information on Neurofibromatosis awareness:








KRISTY JO VOLCHKO is an award-winning, multi-genre author, poet, blogger, book reviewer, and human rights activist. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she continues to share her love of storytelling, all things 80s, and tries to stay out of trouble.

Love the 80s? Read award-winning young adult comedy, Mall Hair Maladies

FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Q&A With Groove-Tunes Radio!

“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.” Plato

Good afternoon, readers! It’s my pleasure to introduce Groove-Tunes Radio DJ, Mindy Wright, a huge promoter of “Peace, Love, & Harmony!” (A wonderful message!) Mindy happily shares that message all across the globe by playing the grooviest hits from the 60s, 70s, & 80s…

So, without further ado, let’s hang out with the groovy-goddess herself…Mindy!

Me: Tell us a little about the station, your message, and tremendous passion for music. 

Mindy: Hi, Kristy, thanks for having me! Groove-Tunes Radio is a mixture of classic rock & oldies. We play a variety of hits ranging from Abba to Queen to The Zombies. We’re mostly ‘70s but tap into the ‘60s and ‘80s…

The message? Always, peace, love, & harmony…  

How much do I love music? Who doesn’t love music? I remember sitting in a closet with a portable radio listening to the local station and singing along to whatever was played. On Saturday afternoons, my friend and I would listen to the American Top 40 and write down the list.

Your station plays a super-groovy variety of tunes (that I LOVE); do you have a favorite decade above the others? 

I prefer the ‘70s, however, ’80s music is right up there. I grew up watching American Bandstand, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, and Midnight Special…gotta love Wolfman Jack! But when MTV fired up and the music genres branched off in an explosive decade of music (that’s unlike any other), the ‘80s became a strong favorite.

Who was the first band you ever saw live? 

The first artist I saw in concert was Shaun Cassidy! (My forever teen idol.) The first band I saw was Hall & Oates. I would love to see them again!

Shaun Cassidy! What a cutie. I imagine that you do what you do because you’re head-over-heels in love with music, what’re your go-to songs when you need to feel inspired or recharged? And how about top ten picks that reflect your positive message of peace, love, & harmony? 

Songs to feel recharged and inspired~ ‘September’, ‘China Grove’, ‘Jungle Love’, ‘Xanadu’, ‘I Feel the Earth Move’, and…‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’!

Top 10 songs for a message of peace, love, & harmony~ ‘Give me Peace on Earth’, ‘California Dreamin’, ‘I’m a Believer’, ‘Aquarius’, ‘Your Song’, ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’, ‘Teach Your Children’, ‘Let It Be’, ‘For What It’s Worth’, ‘What the World Needs Now Is Love (Sweet love)’.

Those are fantastic feel-good songs…🙂

How can people tune in and what nights do you take requests?

 Groovetunes Radio (groove-tunes.blogspot.com) Remember to visit the chatbox!

My main shows are on Friday and Saturday evenings and we have our holiday shows, Halloween, Christmas, Independence Day, etc. Plus, we have special shows such as Disco Night, Saturday Morning Retro Show/Teen IdolsName Game, and Movie/Team TV Themes. We’re also looking into having a comedy night. I pop on the air after work a couple of times a week and will take requests, however, we have Al in the Netherlands, who also DJs. He’ll go on the air throughout the week and take requests as well. 

So many awesome things, I love it! I must say, I have a blast whenever I tune in. The Halloween show is one of my favorites…and game nights…and disco night…haha.      

How about some Mindy fun-facts!

What are your favorite colors?

Yellow, pink, and black.

Top favorite artists/bands of all time?

Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Bee Gees, Chicago, and Journey.

What is your favorite season & why?

Fall, for cooler temps and leaves changing colors…HALLOWEEN!!

Five things you can’t live without?

Family & friends, music, mascara, my phone, my four cats, and PIE!

What’s the last book you read?

The Marriage of Opposites.

The last movie you watched?

Downtown Abbey; The Movie.

Do you have an absolute dream vacation destination?

Yes, Australia!!

Hocus-Pocus or The Nightmare Before Christmas?

Hocus Pocus!

Elvis or John Lennon?

Going with Elvis… 

Grease or Footloose?


What are two of your favorite quotes? 

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want that rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” ‘Harry Burns’- When Harry Met Sally

“Always throw spilt salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck, and fall in love whenever you can.” Practical Magic

Those are great quotes! Thanks for sharing, Mindy, and as always, it’s been a pleasure. Have a fabulous summer!

Keep up with the latest Groove-Tunes happenings, events, & news on Facebook and Twitter! {And don’t just tune in for the hits, fun, and games…hang out in the chatbox, say hello, and request one of your favorite groovy-tunes!} See you there!











KRISTY JO VOLCHKO is an award-winning, multi-genre author, poet, blogger, book reviewer, and human rights activist. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she continues to share her love of storytelling, all things 80s, and tries to stay out of trouble.

Love the ’80s?

Read award-winning, teen comedy, Mall Hair Maladies

#FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Q&A With Soulla Christodoulou

Hello, and welcome to my blog! Today I’d like to introduce the delightfully charming Soulla Christodoulou. 


Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hello, Kristy and thanks for having me! I’m an adult fiction author and poet and a mum of three boys. I live in a North London suburb, very close to where I grew up as part of a big Greek Cypriot family. My aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents were a huge part of my life and they still continue to be. I was the first in my family to go to university and I have graduated three times with a university degree, a Post Graduate in Education and a Masters.

I’m a fun-loving, giggly person who has learned to accept who I am in my later years and since “letting go” of other people’s expectations I have found that life just gets better and better. Being older definitely makes you wiser and I look at the world and all it has to offer not just with my eyes but with my heart too.

I am passionate about my Greek Cypriot roots, love my family and enjoy eating, travelling and of course writing. I am an advocate of young people and entrepreneurship and put lots of energy into supporting and nurturing young people to make the right choices for them and to push outside the boundaries of their comfort zone; after all, it’s outside the familiar and the comfortable that we find our best selves and our best opportunities.

My mother’s illness a few years ago prompted me to support others with cancer and I write monthly letters to women, through a charity called Girls Love Mail, based in California. One of my original letters is featured in a book called Dear Friend. Writing the letters reminds me how lucky I am to have my mum, my health and how privileged I am to be able to offer comfort and hope and strength and love to women through my words.

When I’m not working on my latest book I teach privately, offer editing services, both fiction and non-fiction, and ghost blogging on a variety of subjects.

What inspired you to write Broken Pieces of Tomorrow?

I’d always enjoyed writing and kept a diary through my teenage years. Then my life situation, as an adult, forced me to look outside of my career and my home; I joined a creative writing class in January 2015 as a way to clench back some “me” time and some control over my life. The feedback I got from my fellow writers on the course encouraged me to look at my writing more seriously. Out of that came my first novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow; a semi-biographical story based on my own experience of marital breakdown which translates as “my whole world and my future shattered into a million pieces overnight”. It is a “coming of age” story where the main character, Georgia, goes through a life-changing journey which impacts on her emotionally, intellectually and socially. It was a book, that looking back, healed me. It is a story that many readers, on many levels can relate to. Readers have contacted me to thank me for sharing Georgia’s experience and to say that reading the book gave them strength, hope and a new way of looking at their own situation. Many have laughed and cried with Georgia and it is the emotions her journey evokes in my readers that I am most proud of.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love the fact that I can write anywhere and at any time; it’s not a restrictive nine to five occupation. I like the way my day can be as long or as short as want it to be, that it can start as early as 6 am or continue long into the early hours as I tap away at my laptop when my house is cloaked in silence. It is also a way of expressing myself, my inner thoughts and ideas, without being judged. I can write down the words and emotions I have inside of me which would perhaps remain unsaid or which I believe might be received differently if I utter them out loud.

Who designs your book covers?

Both book covers to date have been designed and formatted by two students whose designs won a competition I launched across Instagram. One student lives in the UK and I have actually since met her and her mother at my book launch of The Summer Will Come. The second student lives and studies in Athens. I am hoping to meet him when I visit Athens in October later this year. Both designers have been acknowledged in my books for their creative contribution.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a story about two people who meet across social media; their friendship blossoms and they quickly become ‘virtual’ lovers. It’s a story about crossing the line, about emotional connections, dependency, relationships, and trust. The title of the book currently, though this may change, is Trust is a Big Word.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I would say go with your gut instinct when writing, when planning your journey. Write what resonates with you and fills your heart with joy. Writing is difficult and if you’re forcing yourself to write in a genre which doesn’t feel right or which interests you then it will become a chore and we all know what it’s like to be faced with a pile of ironing we don’t want to do!

Also, set yourself goals in a way that will motivate and encourage you to keep going…I tend to use SMART objective setting. This allows me to set my goals in such a way that they can be measured and achieved within a given time frame. Mostly this means a word count to be completed in a day or sitting or a chapter to be edited or, in the case of marketing, a set number of projects to be planned and executed.

Writing can be quite isolating (you can’t be writing if you’re chatting in a room full of people) so build a network of people who can support and advise; writers, authors, publishers, marketing experts, readers. I use my social media in such a way that the community I have built is one I can collaborate with and one in which I can seek help when I need it. I think, as in any career, it is the people who are in your “A Team” who can make all the difference. I have connected with some wonderfully generous, kind and insightful people many who I have met up with too. Social media, if used correctly, is a powerful tool and I wouldn’t be without it.

Reading and writing go hand in hand too so I would say read as much as you can and not only in the genre you’re writing in but push yourself to read books you may not usually read. Over time, it is the reading that will help to develop your own style and what is often referred to as “voice”.

Joining a creative writing class can help motivate you to write too. It means that you are accountable to someone else and so you will more than likely keep writing and reach those magic words “The End”.

I would also say when looking at publishing your work look at all the options and choose what suits you. I waited for a long time to be published traditionally but actually, I feel like my Indie publishing journey was meant to be. I’m entrepreneurially-minded, I have marketing knowledge and I’m a go-getter. Indie publishing has taught me so much about marketing, promotion, connecting with people and managing my time as a writer. Not all the options available suit everyone so it’s important to do what sits most comfortably with your personality, expectations and your instinct.

What kinds of things do you like do for fun? Hobbies?

I absolutely LOVE dancing and in the past have done belly-dancing lessons. I love to travel and in the past three years have travelled to seven different countries. Each time my writing has been inspired and new stories and story ideas have awakened within me. I also enjoy reading and watching video blogs relating to positivity, mindfulness, heartfulness and generally how to be in a constant state of “happiness”. My birth name, Anastasia, in Greek means the positive one and I am a positive person. That doesn’t mean I don’t get down but I always get back up by looking at the plus side of anything that happens in my life. EVERYTHING happens for a reason. I always believe that reason brings with it better understanding, an opportunity for growth and the ability to trust patience in my life to become the best I can be.

If you could choose any destination in the world to spend six months writing, where would you go and why?

Oh gosh, that’s a tough question to answer Kristy. I suppose somewhere away from the constant barrage of media, the noise of city living and the demands of day to day life. I’d be happy anywhere as long as I know my family is safe and happy without me. I can quite easily lose myself anywhere but if I had to name a place, and based on one of my most recent escapes, I would have to say India. It was a place full of magic, deep spiritual presence, and color which touched me both emotionally and intellectually. The culture from the people to the food to the lifestyles and the landscapes filled me with absolute wonder; a wonder I don’t think will ever be satiated. If I had to choose somewhere closer to home then I would say Cyprus; the birthplace of my parents, grandparents and those before them. Cyprus pulls at my heartstrings and helps me understand the people my parents are and the person I am too. Cyprus is a country of contradictions; bustling cities and simple villages, mountains and seas, hot and cold, barren landscapes and green forests, modern and ancient, east and west, art and music, and a people who are as passionate about their culture and traditions as they are about their families and their food.

What would you like your readers to know?

I suppose that I’m an ordinary person who has made a conscious decision to write. It’s not a hobby or a pastime. I have chosen to write every day and to use my experiences and the experiences of those around me to weave fictional stories that will evoke real emotions and thoughts that will remain with the reader long after they have reached the end. I’m a “happy ever after” person and this reflects in my writing and the way I live my life. No sadness lasts forever, it fades, it changes, it lessens and we move on. I love meeting my readers and connecting with those in my community; without them, I wouldn’t have anyone to share my words with other than myself. I enjoy talking about my writing at book club events and local fundraisers and public presentations. As a mother, and former secondary school teacher and Middle manager, I look for opportunities to support young people.

Where can we find your books?

Currently, all my books, including my historical fiction novel, The Summer Will Come and my poetry collection, Sunshine after Rain, is available on Amazon.







My books, Amazon



*Last movie you watched
Goodbye Christopher Robin – on a flight to India which left me bawling my eyes out.

*Favorite place to write
At my dining room table, in the summer, with the French doors open onto my back garden

*Three things you can’t live without
Music, laughter and green tea!

*Last book you read
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Cherry Radford which I read sunning myself in Cyprus.

*Top three favorite bands of all time
I love dancing and I honestly cannot narrow it down at all.

*Favorite colors
Pinks, blues, and greys.

*Favorite season
Early summer when the days are not too hot and you feel the relief of the breeze through your hair, blooms colour the garden and the skies are blue.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this, Soulla. Wishing you all the best! 



Q&A With Wolfe Butler


Recently I’ve had the pleasure of reading Wolfe Butler’s debut novel, Getting Home, and enjoyed it so much, I simply had to know more about the man behind the story. I greatly appreciate him stopping by to share some time with us.

Read my five-star review here: Amazon Review 

Hello, and welcome to my blog! 

Thank you so much for having me.

Kristy: Please tell us a little about yourself.

Wolfe: I grew up in a small, rural town in the Midwest. Winter was never my favorite season, so one year while vacationing in Tennessee, I decided to make it my home. I now live near Gatlinburg and get to enjoy warm weather much of the year and beautiful mountain views that offer endless inspiration.

About 10 years ago, I lost the love of my life. My wife, Laramie, was and is my muse. She is very much the basis for Chari in Getting Home, though Laramie was a much stronger person. She’s also the voice that keeps me writing most days.

I am very late coming to the writing party. Even though being an author was always my dream, I spent the last 25 years working in corporate financial services. Now I am mostly writing full-time while doing a little freelance and ghost writing on the side.

Kristy: What inspired you to write Getting Home?

Wolfe: There really wasn’t a specific inspiration. I had taken some time off from writing and was ready to return to my passion. One August afternoon, I sat down and just started writing what was happening. The Prologue was born, and slowly Tom Jacob’s voice started to talk to me. It was a long, slow process that took me 15 years to complete, though I’m not entirely sure it is really complete even now.

Kristy: What do you enjoy most about writing?

Wolfe: My favorite things would have to be the escapism and adventure. First, this world is often a dark and scary place. Writing lets you retreat to a world where you have complete control and safety. For adventure, there’s an adrenaline rush for me when a new character is born. Getting to know that character and their backstory is always so much fun.

Kristy: Who designs your book covers?

Wolfe: I designed the cover for Getting Home, but I would probably not do that again. Even though I did a fair amount of research, there was a great deal I did not know about self-publishing. At some point, I intend to revise Getting Home and have a professional cover designed. For now, though, I need a break from it to develop my other projects.

Kristy: What are you currently working on?

Wolfe: I am working on two novels right now. The first has the working title Paradise, and I am sharing it on my blog as I write it. It’s a science-fiction story about a man trapped between two very different realities with no memories to guide him. I am having a blast writing it and getting instant feedback from readers.

The second one I am calling Shadows of Doubt, and it also centers around memory loss. The first chapter is also on my blog, but I will probably not post the rest of it online. Its story starts with a young woman waking up in a large and beautiful mansion where nothing is familiar to her. I have it mapped out in my head but haven’t been giving it the time it deserves.

Kristy: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Wolfe: Don’t ever stop writing. If at all possible, write every day. Like any other artform, writing only improves with constant effort and commitment.

Kristy: What kinds of things do you like do for fun? Hobbies?

Wolfe: I love the outdoors, so living in Tennessee is perfect for that. Gardening has become another passion, so I spend most of the warmer months outside. Hiking, cooking and volunteering are also very important to me. I feel like I have an obligation to support my community, so I volunteer in various ways every month, primarily with helping the elderly.

Kristy: If you could choose any destination in the world to spend six months writing, where would you go and why?

Wolfe: My bucket list vacation is New Zealand and spending six months there would be amazing. For a relatively small country, it is full of natural diversity and beauty having everything from beaches to mountains and everything in between. It would probably take six months just to see everything I would like to. I might have to stay another six months just to have the time to write about it.

Kristy: Where can readers find your books?

Wolfe: Right now, my debut novel is only available on Amazon. My current work-in-progress is available on my blog with new chapters posted on Tuesdays. Links for both are below.

My blog also features my poetry, short stories and a life lessons series called I’ve Learned that will hopefully become a book of its own one day.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wolfe_butler

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wolfebutlerauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/butler.wolfe/

Blog: https://wolfebutler.com/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/wolfebutler/

Getting Home:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2D1mKZL

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2GcUV0E

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/lLuRPOUY-Uo 

Paradise WIP: https://wolfebutler.com/blog-series/paradise-wip-2/ 


*Last movie you watched

I’m a bit of a sci-fi geek, so I think the last movie was Wonder Woman.

*Favorite place to write

Mostly I write at my desk, where I have an excellent view of my backyard, and almost always have a window open so I can listen to the sounds of nature outside.

*Three things you can’t live without

Cheese, pasta and my Hulu subscription. Well, maybe I could live without the last one, but I really enjoy it.

*Last book you read

Nonfiction, Influencer by Gundi Gabrielle

For fiction, the last book I completed was your fun Mall Hair Maladies

Currently I’m reading The Great Game by O.J. Lowe

*Favorite sports team

I’m not a huge sports fan, but when I take the time, I like college football and support UT (University of Tennessee). Their stadium is not far from me, and I’ve never seen anyone love football the way UT fans do.

Kristy: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! I wish you much success with your upcoming projects. 

Wolfe: Thanks again for having me.

Q&A With Oleg Konovalov


Good afternoon, readers! It’s my pleasure to present Mr. Oleg Konovalov, an author whose writing I’ve greatly enjoyed. Through his books I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the ins and outs of the world of corporate structure and business anatomy. His latest release, Corporate Superpower: Cultivating A Winning Culture For Your Business is an exceptionally valuable guide to cultural management chock-full of examples and practical recommendations. I appreciate him taking the time to share a little about himself. So, let’s get to it!

Kristy: Please tell us a little about yourself.

Oleg: I am originally from the northern area of Russia, Murmansk, which is above the Arctic Circle and similar to Alaska in terms of climate. For the last twenty years I am living in Birmingham (the UK) but still frequently traveling to Russia to see family and friends and for different business projects.

My work journey is quite colourful, from a deep-sea trawler engine room which is one of the riskiest professions to the top managerial positions. Fishing industry experience is invaluable. You must have an entrepreneurial spirit as no operations are the same, always be on toes facing tough challenges, strong character to face dramatic and unpredictable events, and be prepared to change.

I was operating businesses in the UK and internationally for 25 years and now concentrating on consultancy and speaking. Feeling an irresistible craving for more knowledge went for MBA relatively late and eventually gained a doctoral degree from the Durham University Business School.

Kristy: What inspired you to write Corporate Superpower: Cultivating A Winning Culture For Your Business?



Oleg: Corporate Superpower is the book about people and for people. I learned through my life one important thing – all energy and power resides in people and not in machines or technologies. My aim is to help companies, entrepreneurs, and start-up enthusiasts to create a leap in performance through their people engagement and thus, helping them to build their dreams.

Also, many of us have painful experience working for companies with negative culture, which I call Dark Kingdoms. My book discusses how to turn negative culture into productive force and restore employees’ respect and confidence.

Kristy: The book has already received fantastic reviews and has been described as a bible of culture management for modern leaders. What can smaller businesses and startups take away from this read?

Oleg: Organizational culture reflects the true nature of a company whether it is small firm or large corporation. It doesn’t matter a number of people working for a company, it is a matter how they feel working for it. Culture is not given but something valuable which demands constant tuning and strengthening organization from inside. At the same time, culture defines the boundaries of any company and so, its ability to influence customers and partners. This is so critical for small businesses to cultivate strong culture and gain this important ability to influence customers and partners as a matter of succeeding and survival on a long run.

This book is particularly important for start-ups. They have very short time to prove their viability and must progress to the best of their potentials otherwise fail. Culture is the most critical source of inner energy which must be envisioned and nurtured from a day one of any start-up. If not, such start-up wouldn’t be a team of the same-minded people but a bunch of joyriders which are not worried about project’s future at all. We can say – create a strong company soul, i.e. culture, or die.

Kristy: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Oleg: Writing a book on culture is a tough challenge. This is a mixer of worries, joy, miracle discoveries, taking the wrong route and coming back to start again. In other words, writing book is like living a short life facing all its emotions in a condensed way. At the same, I have grown as a person and as expert writing Corporate Superpower.

Kristy: Who designed your book cover?

Oleg: Thanks to the excellent team of the publisher WildBlue Press who designed the book cover. It appears very soft and appealing to touch. It was not easy to express the meanings of culture in graphics. I offered the idea of hands passing energy from one to another and the designers created the cover which perfectly reflects a nature of culture as a combined energy of many working for an organization.

Kristy: What would you like readers to know?

Oleg: I tend to discuss critical issues using three-dimensional approach, and four-dimensional view where possible. In my view, complexity is a pile of simple things and my job is to lay them out in a simplest for a reader manner. I always aim to analyze and discuss the issues unexplored before and open new horizons and so, opportunities for business development.

There are five critical issues that most readers are not aware and CORPORATE SUPERPOWER offers a detailed discussion of them.

  • Strong corporate culture has five mandatory functions – language, active doing, revitalization, self-detection, and self-regulation.
  • Corporate culture is responsible for value creation by providing organizational metaphysical resources through six main elements – teamwork, professionalism, accountability, innovativeness, trust, and shared vision.
  • Psychologically, there are two cultural types of organizations which define their identity – extroverts who are and introverts. The biggest difference between introverts and extroverts in an organizational context lies in goals, approaches in the development of organizational capabilities, imprinted roles and functions, types of human capital and thus behavior.
  • There is no data on how many companies have negative culture but all people have experience of them. However, we don’t talk about them making things worse. For instance, academic libraries offer almost 450,000 articles relevant to the study of organizational culture, and fewer than 100 of them talk about negative culture.
  • There are seven most critical factors which define cultural climate inside of a company from employee’s perspective – respect, job satisfaction, involvement, loyalty, shared affection and support, preparedness for change, and responsibility.

Kristy: What are you currently working on?

Oleg: I see all organizations as the live bodies with biological properties and functions.  One of my previous books, Organisational Anatomy, discusses the optimum configuration of different types of organizations and allows business to achieve higher performance and recognize problems by treating the organizational diseases. I am working on a next book project which will explore the live nature of organizations further and will offer a detailed and step-by-step guide to building the effective business whether start-up or a mature company. The aim of the new book is to help businesses to achieve a superior performance by using their best inner qualities.

Kristy: What are some things you like to do for fun?

Oleg: There are few things which I am really passionate about – new business ventures, exploring something new, reading, and of course, fishing and fly-tying. I am very keen salmon fly-fisherman. I am always chasing a trophy Atlantic salmon and the biggest one which I caught was 16 kilos. It was an unforgettable fight.

Kristy: If you could choose any destination in the world to spend six months writing, where would you go and why?

Oleg: Writing a book is not spilling own self but finding own and then spilling the purified thoughts on a paper. I prefer fast-flowing river and deep forest to an overcrowded city and must recharge myself going into the wilds from time to time. In my view, nature is a best teacher and healer. I will choose a place somewhere close to a fishing river or lake, mountains, and deep forest, but close enough to a small city if I want to meet with friends or have a cup of coffee talking with new people in a coffee shop.

Kristy: Where can we readers find your books?

Oleg: Corporate Superpower: Cultivating A Winning Culture For Your Business is available in paperback and Kindle and audio will be available within a couple of month. Readers can find it on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, 800-CEO, and in bookshops throughout the USA.


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Oleg-Konovalov/e/B00MF7JYZI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1522881874&sr=1-1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/olkonol_oa?lang=en

Website: http://olegkonovalov.com/

Thanks again for the Q&A, and congratulations on the release of Corporate Superpower: Cultivating A Winning Culture For Your Business. I wish you much success!       





Teacher Appreciation Week 2017

Teacher Appreciation Week 2017 is here! What does that mean? It’s time to give a big shout out to the hard-working educators across the land! During the first week of May, or this year, May 8-12th (Conflicting dates, but you can’t go wrong with either) we celebrate a week of gratitude for the teachers that dedicate their lives educating the children of this world.

We all know that most teachers give so much more than a daily lesson. These sensitive, intelligent, hard-working folks put much of their time and energy into shaping, guiding, and loving our children. For some kids, that one special teacher may be their only source of safety, comfort, attention, guidance, a caring smile, and even a snack to fill their belly. I truly believe that teacher’s are the most special people on the planet. #Angels

As a student, mother, children’s author, and previous public school aide (many moons ago), I’ve had the pleasure of knowing an array of educators throughout the years. I’ll always carry a special place in my heart for the unforgettable people that helped shape who I am today and continue to do so.

My 2017 Teacher Appreciation #ShoutOut goes to Mrs. Jill Cofsky, from Oxford, Massachusetts, who also happens to be a talented voice actor. #HappyTeachersWeek to a positive, creative, exceptional lady, who continues to touch the lives of so many, every single day. Thank you for all that you do!



To learn more about Jill Cofsky, visit: https://www.jillcofskyvoice.com @JillCofskyVoice


Nurturing Your Future Bookworm-Inspiring Kids to Love Reading

Getting children to be enthusiastic about reading can sometimes be a challenge. Compared to the television, with all of its stimulating jingles, colors, and characters, reading may seem quite boring. That’s why the earlier they begin their lifelong love of books, the better. Books with vibrant art, rhyming, and lively characters is a great place to start. Soon they’ll be hungry for new words, worlds, and of course, special time with you.   

*Make sure to read with them daily. Although schedules get hectic, carving out 15 minutes for a story goes a long way.  

* Take turns reading aloud, alternating pages.

*Use funny voices or accents sometimes just for fun.

*Get them a library card and show them how to use it. Spend time there together and allow them to choose subjects of interest. You may also want to participate in some of the activities/programs that your branch has to offer.     

*Bring them to the used bookstore for new reads and encourage them to donate or share books they’ve outgrown.

*Make story time your uninterrupted one on one time together.

*Laugh! Reading should be enjoyable and fun.

*Discuss the story and characters- always encourage questions. Rouse their imagination by asking how they would’ve chosen the story to end or what happens afterward.        

*Have lots of literature at home and available to them. Make it a fun project to build and decorate a bookcase for their bedroom filled with favorite books.

*Prompt them to bring books along for trips, car time, waiting areas, picnics, etc. 

*Teach them to respect books, their pages, and to take good care of them. Allow them to develop a bond with reading in general.  

*Create decorative book markers together for every season for some craft time fun.

*Be an example. If kids see that reading is your norm, it’ll be theirs.

*Most of all, inspire them to make books and reading a part of their everyday life. Read signs, menus, games, flash cards, magazines, comic books, etc. Take them to libraries, bookstores, annual book sales, and flea market tables. Sound things out together, teach alternative meanings, challenge, and praise them often.

“What is another word for mommy?” Bibliophile. Bibliophagist. Logophile. Bibliomaniac. Bookworm. Happy.           

A December Day in Pittsburgh

It’s an already-dark 6:15 PM in Pittsburgh as I sit at my keyboard, distracted by the fat, beautiful snowflakes falling outside my window. Suddenly, I realize just how much I love this city during the holiday season. If the seasonal weather, spectacular lights, sporting events, holiday-themed activities for both adults and children, outdoor skating rinks, music, and traditional downtown window displays doesn’t have you feeling the least bit festive, then you may want to read How the Grinch Stole Christmas. A couple of times.

The ‘Burgh’ has so many wonderful things happening throughout the year but the holiday season is where you’ll undoubtedly fall in city-love. Here are a few activities that are sure to cement amazing memories and lift your spirits high into the snowy, (or rainy) Pittsburgh sky!

Start your season off right with the traditional Light Up Night Celebration.

Light Up Night kicks off the opening of the Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Market Square. Lots of food, music, and fun. {November 18-December 23, 2016.} Receive a complimentary snapshot with Santa if you make a donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank.  

Layer up for some ice skating at Mass Mutual Ice Rink. With the holiday tunes playing, snowflakes falling, and nearby art displays in view, the ambiance is amazing.

Cruise on over to the PPG Wintergarden for some hot cocoa and to explore the Spirits of Giving From Around the World exhibition. Kids love the Gingerbread House and Train exhibit. You’ll surely enjoy Carnegie Science Center’s Miniature Railroad & Village as well

Kennywood’s Holiday Lights begins in November and has close to two million gorgeous lights! Sing along with the local choirs, hang out with Santa, ride the Gingerbread Express, or just walk around and have some food.

Pittsburgh’s Cultural District has annual performances of The Nutcracker, A Musical Christmas Carol,  A Christmas Story, & more.  

Need to expend even more energy? Take the family out to screams their heads off at a Steeler or Penguins game. (Ohhh yeah!) 

Trans-Siberian Orchestra World Tour at the arena is something you MUST experience at least once. Fantastic!

Even if you do none of the above activities, there’s something festive going on inside nearly every store, mall, library, or restaurant. There are local storytime events, sales, visits from Santa, giveaways, free concerts and holiday music playing most everywhere. Hopefully when you hear that familiar Salvation Army bell ringing outside the store entrances or along the wreath-lined street corners, it brings out the part of you that loves to give to the less fortunate. 

The holiday season is a great time to count your blessings. Not everyone has access to warm blankets, coats, shoes, a place to live, medical care, or food and there are many programs in the Pittsburgh region in need of donations. Coats, blankets, canned goods, money, toys, & books, are just a few items that you can donate to someone in need.

Pittsburgh has always been a festive, charitable, diverse, resourceful, humble, yet proud city and I’ll always be proud to call this place my home. #HappyHolidaysPittsburgh